Ex-servicemen disappointed with OROP; protests to continue
“Six of our demands have been rejected; the government has accepted only one demand – we are not happy, the protests to continue”.
The ex-servicemen’s United Front have said that they are only partially pleased on the announcement made by the government. They have announced that the protests will continue; a massive rally planned on September 12.
According to the current positions, disputes are on about three issues:
1. Revision of pension once in every two years instead of the government’s decision to revise pension once in every five years.
2. The scheme will be effect from 1.4.2014 instead of July 1, 2014
3. A five-member committee instead of a one-member committee, and the report to be submitted in 30 days.
A review of OROP scheme
Based on the recommendations of the Third Pay Commission in 1973, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had revoked the One Rank One Pension scheme. During the year, the salaries of government employees were increased from 33 percent to 50 percent.
Based on the last drawn salary, the armymen’s pensions were decreased from 70 percent to 50 percent.
The Fourth Pay Commission of 1986 rejected the demands for increasing the army pension.
The Sharad Pawar Committee in 1991 rejected the demand, but agreed to revise the pension once.
The Fifth Pay Commission of 1996 rejected the demand of the ex-servicemen.
Sonia Gandhi asked that the pension revision be included in the election manifesto of 2002.
The Sixth Pay Commission of 2006 rejected the pension demand; ex-servicemen began to protest in the open.
In 2008, a relay fast was held at Jantar Mantar by the ex-servicemen. They decided to return the medals and gallantry awards to the government. The government ignored them.
In 2009, the then President Pratibha Patil refused to meet the ex-servicemen. They handed over the medals and awards to the Rastrapati Bhavan staff.
In 2011, the ex-servicemen pension demand was presented to the Rajya Sabha committee.
The then Defence Minister AK Anthony and the then Finance Minster Pranabh Mukherjee rejected the demand saying that the scheme would require an additional Rs.8000 – 9000 crores and that the government did not have such funds to spend.
In 2013, Narendra Modi took part in a massive rally organized by the ex-servicemen in Haryana’s Rewali and expressed his support to the One Rank One Pension scheme.
As soon as Modi indicated his support, the UPA government woke up and announced that it would implement OROP from April 2014 onwards. Rs.500 crores was allocated for this purpose.
Even after the BJP-led Modi government took charge at the centre, confusions and delays continued to prevail. But the prime minister was firm on implementing OROP.
The ex-servicemen began fasting at Jantar Mantar once again in July, thus stepping up pressure on the government.
On September 5, the centre announced the implementation of One Rank One Pension.